About A.D. 1300–1500
Peru, Ica Valley
Carved and painted wood
Gift of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 1971.363
Large, heavy wooden boards with decorative carving were often placed in the tombs of Ica Valley nobility during the period when the region was ruled by the Inca Empire. On this example, the lowermost pattern resembles the decorative waistband of an Inca tapestry tunic, while the bird patterns above resemble local Ica-style textile designs. A row of three-dimensional human figures wearing semicircular headdresses surmounts the board. While the grave boards resemble dagger-boards (which help prevent boats from drifting off-course), their form is also similar to agricultural digging tools. The fragility of the decorated upper portions suggests that this board served a symbolic, rather than a practical function.